If you want an example of how little progress politicians have made since the Earth Summit in 1992, it could be heard in the voices of the Xavante people onboard the Rainbow Warrior yesterday.

Twenty years ago at the first Earth Summit, the government and the mining company operating on their land promised the Xavante justice with the return of their traditional lands. Over the years, their land was demarcated and approved however the Xavante are still fighting to get large scale industrial farming off of their land.

 

 The Xavante joined the crew of the Rainbow Warrior yesterday to mark twenty years of government inaction and to join the call for Zero Deforestation in Brazil. Speaking from the conference room onboard, chief Damião Paridzané demanded action, "Brazil is playing with indigenous peoples. Today the court is only working for those with the money. Nothing has happened, the government has failed to evict the leaseholders on our land and to remove the farmers. It's a shame. We cannot wait another 20 years for action.”

In the 1960s, the Xavante were forcibly removed from their territory, paving the way for the invasion of large agricultural landowners.  Since then, about 90% of their land has been cleared and deforested and is now considered one of the most destroyed areas in the Amazon. Today, after years of conflict they live under siege in a small portion of the territory, and are often threatened with death for speaking out against the drivers of deforestation.

The Xavante join more than 350,000 Brazilians already signed onto the Zero Deforestation citizen’s initiative for a law that would offer full protection for the Amazon.